Community: Rotarians ante up to end polio

Burbank Sunrise Rotary celebrated 25 years of supporting local charities and raised more than $38,000 for Rotary International's polio eradication campaign during a dinner party earlier this month at the Holiday Inn Burbank — Media Center.

A raffle and three large auction items brought in a total of $12,880, which will be tripled through a two-for-one matching grant offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The money will go to the Rotary International's PolioPlus program that pays for immunizations of children throughout the world.

The remaining countries that continue to have cases of polio are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Israel, said Sunrise Rotary President Lee Stacy.

Rotary, along with its partners, has reduced polio cases by 99% worldwide since its first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979, according to the Rotary International website.

Rotarians have helped immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries against polio.

Stacy estimated that at 60 cents per immunization, the $38,600 raised by the anniversary event would enable some 64,000 children to be immunized with the oral polio vaccine.

Locally, Sunrise Rotary supports BCR “a place to grow” by providing a holiday party each year in conjunction with the Noon Rotary Club.

Rotary buys gifts for the clients and throws a party for them and their families, including a meal, entertainment and a visit by Santa Claus.

“The faces and the smiles just melt your heart,” Stacy said. “It's a life-changing event when you go back and see it year after year.”

The club also conducts food drives for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and Burbank Salvation Army as well as contributes to a bike giveaway project.

In the 1990s, the club ran the carnival in Izay Park that followed Burbank on Parade, said Greg Simay, immediate past president.

Years later, the club helped create an educational garden at Washington Elementary, added a portable traffic sign for student safety at Luther Burbank Middle School, installed benches for weary hikers along the Stough Park trail and served up Thanksgiving dinners for the needy.

To fund club projects, members hold fundraisers such as the third annual Flappers Comedy Night coming up on Oct. 8.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at

The headliner will be Don Friesen and the emcee will be James P. Connolly. There will be a raffle and auction.

The achievement that makes Stacy most proud is that Sunrise Rotary has received the Silver Bell — given to the best club in the district — four times, in 2000, 2001, 2010 and 2012.

What makes the award even sweeter is having accomplished it with only 21 members, he said, when other clubs they are competing with can have up to 30 members.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World